(Orange, CA) - Santiago Canyon College (SCC) biology major Brittany Rhodimer traveled to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar Project (NCAS).
Rhodimer, a 22-year-old Fullerton resident, traveled to Edwards, California, to participate in the NCAS program. She was one of 348 students selected to participate. The program culminated in a four-day on-site event which afforded students the chance to interact with NASA engineers.
She was in a biology course when her professor first spoke about astrobiology. She said, “After this conversation, I was obsessed with this idea of being an astrobiologist.” An astrobiologist studies the origin, evolution, and distribution, and future of life in the universe, which includes extraterrestrial life and life on Earth.
The same day she discovered astrobiology, she received an email from a SCC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) counselor, Ann Cass, about this opportunity to be a part of this program with NASA. “It was perfect timing,” she said, “Why shouldn’t I apply?” All of her professors were very supportive of the application process. One professor she says that she thanks a lot is physics professor Cindy Swift who wrote her letter of recommendation for the application.
By participating, Rhodimer gained work experience in astrobiology as well as learned more about that subject. Additionally, she researched on her own to gain as much knowledge as she could prior to her experience. Potentially, she would like to intern and work for NASA.
During the program, students formed teams and established a fictional company interested in Mars exploration. The teams developed and tested a prototype rover, formed their company’s infrastructure, managed a budget, and developed communications and outreach. The team that Rhodimer was on, ended up winning the challenges presented to the students. Students also toured the NASA facility and experienced briefings by NASA subject matter experts.
Rhodimer was grateful to have been a part of this whole experience. She was able to gain some research in an organization she loves and she received mentoring from employees in that organization. “I feel much more inspired to learn as much as I can, so I can one day be a part of the NASA team or at the very least involve myself in some cutting-edge research,” said Rhodimer.
This research program is funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) that is committed to recruiting underrepresented and underserved students to the study of STEM. This project continues NASA’s tradition of investing in the nation’s education programs to attract and retain STEM students for future missions at the agency.
Tania B. Davis, MUREP manager, said, “NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but also open doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague.”
For more information, contact National Community College Aerospace Scholars at JSC-NCAS@mail.nasa.gov or (281) 483-0493. For more information on the program, visit http://ncas.aerospacescholars.org/. For more information on Minority University Research and Education Program, visit www.nasa.gov/education/murep.
About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) serves about 17,000 students each semester. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and careers, and provides courses for personal and professional development, as well as customized training for business and industry. The college is recognized for its adult education program which keeps the working adult - and seniors - in mind by offering flexible schedules, and community locations. Serving the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park, SCC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
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